|Photo credit: ©istockphoto.com/travellinglight|
This month, let’s get some clarity for you and your team regarding a topic that can greatly impact your sales, customer service and profitability: being an expert. Your customers don’t call to give you a detailed explanation of what specifically needs to be done in their home. They may know what the symptoms are based on what is happening, but they don’t fully understand all the potential solutions. They don’t call you because they know exactly what to do, what their best options are or how to execute the best plan for a solution. They call you because you are already an implied expert to them in your given field.
I use the term “implied expert” because, before the hands-on part of the service call, your technician hasn’t demonstrated his expertise to the customer yet. However, it is implied to the customer that the tech is an expert if he is showing up at the front door. It obviously takes more than this to earn the trust of your potential customer, which always needs to be built throughout the service call process. We must have earned the customer’s trust prior to delivering a quality options sheet or we’ll get turned down every single time, regardless of pricing.
I’m always amazed by the difficulty some people have with being the “expert.” I can understand that we don’t want to be arrogant, egotistical or come across as the “know-it-all” type of person. However, our customers are calling us based on the simple fact that we are experts in something that they are not. We must continue to remind our frontline team of this fact. Customers often talk to us like they know exactly what is wrong and exactly what they need, but the reality is that they don’t know what’s best for them because they don’t know all the potential solutions that are available.
People pay for expert advice and solutions!
‘In my professional opinion’
Four powerful words can be incorporated into working with prospects and customers that immediately improve close rates and average tickets. These words are, “In my professional opinion.” When I witness frontline team members using this simple phrase, really good things happen. Customers invariably tune in and listen better. They become more engaged while discussing solutions, in turn becoming better educated to make a positive buying decision.
However, more often than not, I find that technicians shy away from expert status for whatever reason. When I’m onsite with clients and riding with technicians, I see them undermine their expertise far more than they share and demonstrate it. Yes, it’s easy for your team to fix something. That’s because they’ve put in all the blood, sweat and tears to obtain expert status. Don’t shy away from this fact. Be proud of it, and share it effectively.
Many of our technicians have a challenge with the word salesperson; this isn’t anything new. The association that techs have with this term is actually improving across the country, but it’s still true that a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch if we’re not strategically managing our own company culture. That’s an entirely different column topic, so today we’ll stick with the fact that we don’t promote ourselves as the expert nearly as much as our customers would like.
I see great things happen when technicians are confident enough to give their expert opinion when a customer asks for it. We also know that people, including customers, don’t always ask all the questions they may have regarding a specific situation. This is why it’s vitally important that we share our expert opinion about what might be in their best interest. Of course, we share this only after we’ve asked customers a multitude of questions about the situation and how their lives are affected by the problem at hand.
They’ve hired us to come into their home and make recommendations, educate them about their specific system as it relates to our products and services, and do so based on our expert opinion. We are actually penalizing them if we don’t share what our thoughts are concerning repairs and/or upgrades that might be necessary today or in the future. It’s just good quality communication!
You can’t know everything
You’re probably wondering, “But, Kenny, if I position myself as an expert, does that mean I have to know everything?”
Of course not! I believe this is one area where technicians shortchange themselves on what they know because they certainly don’t know everything. How can you possibly know everything pertaining to all aspects of your primary trade? Your team certainly knows a lot, but they can’t possibly know everything. That’s OK; it’s about effort and finding the right information for the customer, even if we don’t currently have an answer at our disposal. Customers are fine with this, as long as we communicate with them.
As an expert, answer questions directly from your perspective about what is best for the customer. I was recently on an HVAC maintenance call when a customer asked the technician what the average lifespan is for an air conditioner. The technician quickly answered, “Well it depends, but I was on a call yesterday that had a 30-year-old unit that was working fine!” As I’m watching this unfold right before my eyes, I almost couldn’t believe it.
First of all, the customer didn’t ask about this technician’s calls from the previous day, he asked what the average lifespan is. We all know it’s not 30 years, and it was also not working just fine if it were to be compared with one of today’s high-efficiency units. The technician made a judgment that the equipment was fine because he didn’t have to replace it. Was it fine for the customer based on his wants and needs?
Begin to improve your company culture and profitability by training your frontline people to understand the fact that they are experts. As your techs start to embrace this concept, their confidence will improve and they will provide your customers with the best options and service possible. As we know, when our customers consistently receive exceptional service, great things happen all the way around. So, remind yourself and your team members: You are experts!